The night of the winter solstice is a special time for Japanese people.
The winter solstice is the shortest day in the year, and people in old times set it as a turning point of the year aside from New Year’s Eve.
Some customs relating to the winter solstice began out of a desire for a long and healthy life.
Those customs have barely continued until today.
Unfortunately many Japanese people are a bit concerned about this tradition.
However, it’s a natural. They get absorbed in Christmas at this time of the year.
I cherish the tradition of the winter solstice, so I’ll write about the way I spend that day.
Taking a bath with Yuzu (citrons) is the most symbolic custom of the winter solstice.
It is said that it is to prevent a cold, and of course it is a superstition.
For me, a long and relaxing bath with Yuzu is definitely a feature of winter.
Yuzu ripens into a yellow color around December.
Floating Yuzu in the bath look elegant and tasteful. Its refreshing aroma embraces me warmly.
When I’m soaking a hot bath with Yuzu, I feel like the Yuzu fruit juice is soaking into my body, and that makes me feel so comfortable.
In addition, taking a bath gets rid of my fatigue.
After I enjoy a relaxing bath time with Yuzu, I always eat two special dishes.
The first one is simmered Japanese squash.
Though this is a very popular Japanese food, it is said that eating Japanese squash on the winter solstice helps prevent a cold.
I think that is the placebo effect, but I follow this old superstition.
I’m in the habit of enjoying simmered Japanese squash as a feature of the winter solstice.
I eat that as a side dish with sake.
Having sake right after bathing is the best.
White wine is also good with simmered Japanese squash.
The second special dish is called, Azuki-gayu, and it is also a feature of the winter solstice.
Azuki-gayu is rice porridge that contains Azuki (red beans) and some rice cake.
It is said that red beans can remove the negative vibes from a home.
This comforting rice porridge warms up my body. Thanks to that, I can sleep like a baby.
Today, we Japanese tend to forget how great the four seasons are with time.
That suggests that there are negative aspects of economic growth.
So I take the stance of placing importance on the Japanese literary calendar.
Enjoying the winter solstice is also one of them.